A health concern for the majority of us whether young or old is our bone health. Unfortunately for most, it’s only in the latter decades of life that such concerns begin to surface as the reality of osteoporosis and the possibility of bone fractures begin to settle in.
Our bones are an active, living and breathing organ like the rest of our body. They are in constant renewal and re-modelling and this malleability can either make them prone to weaknesses or bring about such strength that osteo[fabulosis] would reign strong!
There’s a generally wide-spread misconception that we can feed our bones with calcium and not worry about much else. This is a huge misconception because the truth cannot be further from this!
Studies looking at bone health have compared the general bone density of women in South Asian countries to those of women in the West. What their findings indicate is that regardless of calcium intake, the bone densities of women in the east are significantly higher than those of us in the west. Why is this?
Here’s a general summary of why calcium is not the answer to bone health:
1. Ingested calcium in whatever form, first needs to be digested and then absorbed which in itself is a process that depends on:
a. Form of calcium – supplement versus food source
b. The amount of calcium intake (eg. 200 mg versus 1000mg)
c. Foods or supplements taken along-side the calcium
2. Vitamin D status affects both how much calcium is absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract as well as how this calcium gets utilized within the body (whether it actually enters bone or not!)
3. Acidity and Alkalinity of body! This is where the idea that milk is a necessity for life -since it is rich in nutrients and calcium being one- can be challenged. Milk among other foods (like coffee, sugar, etc.) causes acidic build-up in the body. As an attempt to bring the body’s pH back to normal, signals are sent for calcium to be leached from bones in order to alkalanize the body back to homeostasis (the body’s naturally well-functioning state).
4. Like muscles, bones need “stress” as a signal for their growth. Otherwise, although the circulating calcium gets used for many other functions (muscular contractions, signalling, buffering, etc.), bone will not be one!
- Ensure a balanced diet that’s alkaline.
- Ensure all bone building nutrients -minerals and vitamins that support bone like vitamin K, boron, manganese, magnesium- are provided by diet and to supplement if needed. There are a number of forms of bone support formula’s out there (with various supplements and in varying doses) so consult with a professional before self-treating.
- Make sure to supplement with Vitamin D during winter and get a minimum of 10 minutes of -sunblock free- skin exposure to the sun in the summer.
- Exercise! Exercise! Exercise in any form which includes a weight-bearing components is very beneficial.